Trail Distance: 6.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 2350'
Terrain Rating: Average
Hike In: 9:34AM
Hike Out: 2:43PM
Snow Conditions: Packed powder, light rain/snow
Winter Gear: Some with snowshoes, others with just boots.
Mount Pierce is a great winter hiking option for beginner winter hikers. The trail is very straight forward and the terrain is usually easy/average because of frequent use. The hike is a gradual 3.2 miles up and it reaches a not so obvious summit at Mt Pierce. From there, you can either continue onto Eisenhower, Washington, or turn back around.
Parking/Trailhead: In the winter, Mt Clinton Road is generally closed. Because of this, you will have to park at the AMC Highland Center and take the Crawford Path from there. There was 5 inches of fresh snow during our hike, so the trailhead is a bit hard to find. It is right off Route 302 directly across from the middle of the AMC parking lot, just keep looking.
The trail to Mount Pierce follows Crawford Path, the oldest footpath in America. There are some warning signs before you get started on the trail. It is important to be prepared in New England winter conditions! You will reach the junction with Mt Clinton Road about 0.4 miles into your hike. Continue onto Crawford Path until you reach an optional detour to Gibb's Falls, a 35 foot waterfall. If you choose not to take the detour, you can keep trekking up. Your next mark will be the Mizpah Cutoff that takes you to the AMC Mizpah Spring Hut (closed in the winter).
At the cutoff, you are more than half way up to the summit! The climb gets steeper here, but it is still easy compared to other 4,000 footer trails. The snow was packed down from earlier hikers even though we got 5 inches that day. We met 6 hikers today. About half were in snowshoes and the other half were bare booting. Poles were helpful to navigate the stream crossings, which weren't completely frozen over yet. In the summer, you might have to scramble up some of the rocks in this section of the trail, but winter conditions means no scrambling!
The last 1.3 miles up to Mount Pierce was a beautiful winter wonderland. The quiet conditions only added to the beauty - a very different scene from summer hiking in the Whites. On your left, there is a wide opening with great views of nearby mountains. You can choose to drop your pack here and head up the 0.1 mile summit without poles, your backpack, etc. The summit is above treeline and is marked by a giant cairn. There was little to no wind at the summit.
- 4L of water
- Lots of bars, sandwich, and hot coca
- SmartWool liner socks and thicker wool socks
- 2 baselayer shirts and a snowboarding jacket
- Salomon Anka CS WP
- Athleta Power Lift pants and Columbia Saturday Trail Strech pants over them
- Marmot Evolution glove
- BUFF headband
- Trekking poles rented from EMS
- Standard daypack
- Extra clothes packed away: extra socks, fleece, fleece hat, extra mid-layer
- Emergency Gear: Map & GPS, Headlamp, reduced First-Aid Kit, Swiss Army Knife, hand/feet warmers
- Winter gear not used: crampons and snowshoes